My father’s name is Norman; Normandy

Was where the Allied soldiers left their mark

Fighting tooth and nail for a beach in France

Deep in the throes of Nazis and wrenched it

From their grip while blood ran deep, dark red like

The grenadine we pour into our glass

Astride dishes of hot dogs and grilled corn.

Father leads me into his study away from

The smoke of the barbecue, he sits and

Reads as I stand in the door with the

Photos of my brothers framed on the wall,

Air Force captain and Chief of Police;

Papa shuffles his papers and shows me

A photo of a young Chinese man with

Solemn lines and a hard sad silence

Seeping into his mouth, his eyes,

This was my father,

He says, my father was a paper son.

He immigrated here on false papers,

took a false surname, cheated the government,

Because he was not allowed as a Chinese man.

He spent his lifetime asserting himself

Without words, and when the time came,

He donned the uniform that took him to Normandy.

I speak English with no accent,

I have two sons who have sworn to lay down

Their lives for this country and when this

Summer comes to an end, you will leave

And do the same. Everything I am I owe

To my father. But he was a quiet man,

ashamed of his history.

You are not going off to fight Nazis

You do not have to worry who you will

Be mistaken for. They will tell you you are fighting for the future,

But know that you are fighting for the past.

Your uniform is a flag. His was a shield. He lost his identity

Giving us ours, so daughter, when you march, cry

Out for this country you claim to love.

Because your grandfather, a paper son,

Had none.